Summer is rapidly becoming a memory, but there is still time for one more visit to the beach this weekend.
Because not only is it a magical place to be at this time of year, it is also a chance to do some good and volunteer for the Great British Beach Clean and help protect the coastline for wildlife.
It’s a citizen science project that has become the most respected and long standing beach litter survey in the UK
The annual event, supported by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), encourages us to collect and record the rubbish that blights hundreds of beaches around the UK coastline, and thousands globally.
“Beach litter is a serious environmental problem,” said Charlotte Coombes, Beachwatch Officer for the MCS. And it’s very much an international problem.
Scientists have suggested about eight million tonnes of plastic waste find their way into the world's oceans each year. A recent report states that plastic has been eaten by about 90% of seabirds, and that it will only get worse until we stop the flow of waste into the oceans.
Some of the UK’s most-loved marine wildlife are under threat from this litter in our seas and on our beaches, with hundreds of species accidentally eating or becoming entangled in it. Plastic bottles, carrier bags, nappies, balloons and tiny plastic pieces are the main culprits, having been washed up, blown there or simply dropped.
Taking part in the Great British Beach Clean really can make a difference
Beach litter, explains Coombes, has steadily risen over the two decades that the beach clean event has been recording. A 6.4% increase was noted in last year’s results from the previous year, with wet wipes having the biggest increase at almost 50%. But tiny bits of plastic were the most frequently found item.
In 2014, record breaking numbers of volunteers were attracted to over 300 beaches around the UK, who collected and recorded nearly 275,000 pieces of litter, at an incredible density of almost 2,500 pieces per kilometre.
“It’s a citizen science project that has become the most respected and long standing beach litter survey in the UK,” says Ms Coombes.
Beachwatch is the UK’s biggest beach clean-up and litter surveying programme. If you’d like to help care for the coastline and its wildlife this year it only takes a couple of hours, and there’s a list of events to volunteer at, or perhaps you’d like to organise your own.
The Great British Beach Clean occurs on the third weekend of every September – this year it is 18th - 21st September. If you do take part you’ll be joining a global army of volunteers from 152 countries as part of an international coastal clean-up effort this weekend.
“Taking part in the Great British Beach Clean really can make a difference,” she says.
Follow the weekend’s activities on social media using #beachclean.
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